Personal info stolen from OSU computer

April 17, 2007

Associated Press

Someone hacked into an Ohio State University computer and stole the personal information of more than 14,000 current and former faculty and staff members, the school said.

The hacker breached a computer firewall the weekend of March 31 and accessed records from an Office of Research database, university spokesman Jim Lynch said Monday.

The records of 7,160 former and 6,934 current faculty and staff members contained names, Social Security numbers, employee ID numbers and birth dates, the university said.

The breach was discovered by the Office of Research on April 2 during a routine review of daily activity logs, and steps were taken to block access to the data, the university said.

"This was a malicious attack," Lynch said.

Ohio State also reported Monday that two laptops stolen from the home of a professor in February contained the Social Security numbers and grades of about 3,500 chemistry students over the past decade.

The university sent apology letters Saturday to affected employees and students, who will be offered a year of free credit protection from a private company to help them guard against potential identity theft, Lynch said.

Allan Silverman, chairman of the Faculty Council that represents Ohio State faculty members, said he would ask the university why the Office of Research, which works to obtain research grants, possessed the database of about 190,000 current and former university employees.

Ohio State is not the first university in the state to report computer thefts.

Ohio University officials announced last April that they had discovered breaches exposing about 367,000 files containing Social Security numbers, names, medical records and home addresses of alumni, students and staff. The university later revised those numbers, saying about 173,000 people.s files were affected.

Lynch said Ohio State officials worked as quickly as possible to determine which records were compromised so victims could be notified. He said it took several weeks to identify the records on the stolen laptops.

Professor Robert Coleman said he transferred the contents of one laptop onto a new laptop just before they were stolen from his house Feb. 24, along with other items.

Information on the laptops included class rosters with students. Social Security numbers and federal grant reports that list the names and Social Security numbers of postdoctoral and undergraduate students working under the grants, Coleman said.

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